The BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh authorities had utterly evacuated the outdated village, situated close to the Kelo river, and shifted the villagers to the brand new location in an elevated space. This, because the formidable Kelo Dam challenge got here up within the area the place the outdated Lakha village was situated. As many as 186 joint households lived on this village. Whereas the residents of Lakha and Dhanot villages have been utterly displaced when the Kelo Dam was in-built 2012, residents of three different villages have been partially affected.
The brand new Lakha village is now juxtaposed to the Raigarh-Ambikapur State Freeway and is affected by fly-ash and industrial mud from the close by metal industries. Commuters additionally discover it exhausting to journey by the poorly constructed highway. After being moved from the low-lying fertile land to a brand new space, which lacks any agricultural properties or water assets, the villagers really feel cheated by the incumbent BJP authorities in Chhattisgarh. In consequence, many in Lakha have vowed to boycott the BJP, which, they allege, by no means cared for them.
Sashika Gadtia, a resident of Lakha village, had misplaced her land once they have been moved to the brand new location. Practically a decade has handed, however she is nonetheless ready to get full compensation from the Chhattisgarh authorities. In consequence, Sashika mentioned she is decided to boycott the BJP throughout the Meeting elections, because it was Chief Minister Raman Singh’s get together that had disadvantaged the villagers of their rights and practically ruined the lives of many.
“I’m able to wave black flags at BJP leaders who go to our village for campaigning. It’s the BJP authorities that ruined our lives. We have been fortunately dwelling within the low-lying Lakha village. It had a river close by, fertile land, ponds and wells. The brand new village neither has fertile soil and farming land, nor ample water,” she mentioned.
She additionally mentioned she was handed a cheque of Rs 6 lakh by the chief minister himself throughout his Vikas Yatra ahead of the polls, however she had obtained solely Rs 2 lakh when she transformed it on the financial institution. She claimed it was a “pretend cheque”.
Sashika is not alone in opening up about her woes and firing photographs towards the BJP.
Lalit Gupta, one other aggrieved individual from the Lakha village, mentioned he has dues amounting to Rs 7.5 lakh from the BJP authorities in Chhattisgarh. “Moreover the pending compensation, the village has suffered rather a lot. The brand new space lies close to the freeway, which is extremely polluted with plenty of mud. The kids are additionally going through the influence of the displacement. There are few facilities right here to help our livelihood.”
Farmers worst hit
Villagers declare that the farmers who owned land within the outdated Lakha village have been the worst hit, as that they had misplaced their total technique of dwelling to the dam constructed on the Kelo river, a tributary of the Mahanadi river within the drought-prone Raigarh district.
“Most farmers misplaced their lands. In our outdated village, we might develop greens amongst different crops. The soil was very fertile. However within the new village, the soil shouldn’t be match for agriculture. The water from borewells is used for electrical energy, as properly,” mentioned Kanu Ram, a septuagenarian resident of the village.
Others allege that the BJP authorities had taken over fertile lands, and compensations have been handed out hurriedly at low costs. Many villagers mentioned that throughout the displacement section, authorities had promised them increased costs for the lands acquired, however that by no means got here by means of.
Gopal Agrawal, who’s well-versed with the method of compensation and had been preserving observe of all bulletins, documentation and sanctions, has been going from pillar to publish at authorities places of work, in search of justice.
“As per the federal government’s personal figures, round 400 households have been displaced. Whereas all of them received plots within the new space for homes, nobody has been compensated for his or her abadi kshetra (land). I’ve been preserving observe of this and following up, however in useless,” he mentioned, including that the federal government has but handy over Rs 500 crore to the village.
“I used to be entitled to Rs 11 lakh for my land. The federal government had been boasting that they’re doing vikas (growth). What type of vikas are they doing if the individuals who misplaced their land haven’t been compensated but?” Agrawal requested.
Many elders additionally mentioned there have been anomalies within the disbursement of compensation. “When the compensation offered was examined throughout the displacement course of, many fertile areas have been proven as wastelands and have been declined for compensation,” one other villager mentioned.
The villagers mentioned they’ve been receiving subsidised rice from the Chhattisgarh authorities — 7 kilograms per individual, per thirty days. Many questioned that whereas different dam-displaced villages in Chhattisgarh had been compensated, why was the BJP authorities subjecting Lakha and Dhanot villages to such step-motherly behaviour after which aggressively campaigning for the elections.
The villagers mentioned the identify ‘Lakha’ was derived from two phrases — ‘La’ and ‘Kha’, which denote the tendency and advantage of the village to have the ability to use and eat assets from the close by forest. Their proximity to pure assets from all sides within the outdated village had made the villagers self-sufficient.
Industrial waste drained into Kelo Dam
Environmentalists are miffed over the Kelo Dam, which was envisaged for irrigation functions and to help the close by industries. They allege that the challenge is hardly giving significance to irrigation, even after so a few years have handed because the development of the dam was accomplished.
Famous environmentalist from Raigarh, Ramesh Agrawal mentioned: “When the federal government proposed to construct the dam, it had promised to present water to the close by villages for irrigation. However round six years have handed, and never a single canal has been constructed for irrigation. The federal government, nonetheless, has ensured that water from the dam goes to the industries.”
Activists additionally alleged that the close by industries had turned the dam right into a drain, dumping their waste into the water and making it more and more polluted. Scrutiny and checks for such actions are negligent right here, they claimed.
The creator is a Bhubaneswar-based freelance author and member of 101Reporters.com